On Thursday, The New York Times published an op-ed by Russian President Vladimir Putin calling on the United States not to pursue military action in Syria, and blasting American exceptionalism. The Obama administration promptly responded by desperately claiming that the Russians had shown themselves to be “fully invested in Syria’s [chemical weapons] disarmament.”
Putin’s op-ed began by calling on the American people to recognize the value of the United Nations. “Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies,” Putin wrote, before invoking historic American-Russian connections during World War II. “No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.” Putin warned that involvement in Syria by the United States “could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.” He stated, “We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law…The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not.”
Next, Putin made the case that the Syrian rebels are terrorists associated with Al Qaeda. “There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations,” he wrote.
Finally, Putin ripped into the United States’ sense of self-worth: “Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us.'” He concluded with a slam on American exceptionalism:
I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is ‘what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.’ It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
On that, at least, Obama and Putin do agree, given the fact that Obama – before his current round of rah-rah speechifying — once stated of American exceptionalism, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
Nonetheless, the op-ed was a slap in the face to the Obama administration, an open admission that Putin is trolling America’s foreign policy dundering. If that wasn’t enough, Putin made clear on Wednesday that the Russian government would do everything in its power to prop up its nuclear weapons-developing Islamist ally in Iran, with reports stating that Russia would sell Iran a new nuclear reactor, as well as anti-aircraft missiles. Meanwhile, Syria has renewed its military actions against the rebels.
So, naturally, an Obama administration source promptly informed CNN in response to Putin’s op-ed, “Putin is now fully invested in Syria’s CW (chemical weapons) disarmament.” Putin’s rhetoric on American exceptionalism, the source said, was “all irrelevant. He put this proposal forward and he’s now invested in it. That’s good. That’s the best possible reaction. He’s fully invested in Syria’s CW disarmament and that’s potentially better than a military strike – which would deter and degrade but wouldn’t get rid of all the chemical weapons. He now owns this. He has fully asserted ownership of it and he needs to deliver.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).